Source – my own copy ,

Well book one of Italian week is the modern classic by the Italian Mastero Italo Calvino ,the cuban born Italian writers Marmite book ,this is a book for reviews I ve read whilst blogging is a book that either people love or hate ,well what did I think ?

You are about to begin reading Calvino’s new novel ,If on a winter’s night a traveller .Concentrate dispel every other thought .Let the world around you fade .

wise words from the sage himself .


The book is a book that talks ,you may laugh but every other chapter is telling you about how you read the book and what it is to read the book ,this is a unusual to start of with but is witty and a little tongue in cheek ,like my fellow blogger Parish lantern the humour was a real surprise ,the other chapters in between are a thee story of a man in a made up-country  Cimmeria ,this would appear to be italy through Calvino’s eyes ,the is a relationship and some fraud ,but there is also a number of different separate stories on various subject’s .The plot is hard to explain as there really isn’t one this is like a tour of talents like Calvino’s portfolio it him nudging you and going  to you look at this ,the book draws you in to you feel like you were a character written by Calvino .

Listening to someone read aloud is very different to reading in silence .when you read, you can stop or skip sentences :you are the one who sets the pace .When someone else is reading it difficult to make your attention coincide with the tempo of his reading : the voice goes either to fast or slow .

I heard Ben Okri say something similar ,the opening of chapter Four .

Well as you may tell I loved this book ,and my doubts were silly ,I should have known I loved  invisible cities ,I tend to doubt myself with these books that are experimental or off beat novels ,because everyone I ve read I love this brought to mind B S Johnson whose works I loved when I read them .I can see why people don’t like it there is little plot not many names and it is maybe a male book more than a female book .This is translated by the wonderful William Weaver probably the best Italian translator alive .

Winston’s score –

I was going use the leaning tower of Pisa but choose to use my own land mark our twisted spire here in Chesterfield ,If you know how it got there it loses its wonder ,the beauty is in the way it looks and the same is true of If on a winter’s night , analysis it too much and the beauty of the first reading is lost, the feeling of floating on a sea of words  with the good captain Calvino .


27 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Richard
    Jan 24, 2011 @ 16:46:31

    Yes. This book is absolutely super. Granted, I’m an absolute sucker for meta-fiction, but this is brilliant.

    Have you read The Castle of Crossed Destinies?


    • winstonsdad
      Jan 24, 2011 @ 17:18:02

      not yet Richard I m a latre comer to Calcino so want work through his books may read another later in year for Italian challenge as well ,all the best stu


  2. (Another) Richard
    Jan 24, 2011 @ 17:21:09

    Stu, I started this a while back and didn’t finish it b/c I was trying to read too many books at the time. Must get back to it–thanks for the reminder. In the meantime, I’m glad to see that Richards are taking over your comments universe, ha ha!!!


  3. Trackback: Tweets that mention IF ON A WINTER’S NIGHT A TRAVELLER BY ITALO CALVINO « Winstonsdad's Blog -- Topsy.com
  4. Parrish
    Jan 24, 2011 @ 19:48:19

    Hi Stu, Thanks for the mention, and here a passage from Italo calvino’s Italian Folktales that I found rather apt to the ideas behind this book & possibly all his oeuvre . this is about a tale called “The parrot” and refers to the narrator of the tale,- “The Parrot by telling an interminable story, manages to save the virtue of a girl. It is a symbolic defense of the narrative art against those who accuse it of being profane & hedonistic. The suspense of the story keeps the fascinated listener from transgression. This is its minimal & conservative justification, but something more profound is revealed in the very narrative construction of “The Parrot”: the art of storytelling which the narrator displays & which is humorously exemplified in the parody of tale that “never end” . Therein lies, for us, its real moral: the storyteller, with a kind of instinctive skillfulness, shies away from the constraint of popular tradition, from the unwritten law that the common people are capable only of repeating trite themes without ever actually “creating”; perhaps the narrator thinks that he is producing only variations on a theme, whereas he ends up telling us what is in his heart”- Wished I’d found this before I wrote my post, it would have made a fitting endpiece.
    Glad someone else has mentioned the humour, I was beginning to think I was delusional, or at least more so than usual.


  5. mee
    Jan 24, 2011 @ 22:20:22

    I read this last year. Loved the beginning, but got exhausted with the unfinished chapters further on. Will try another Calvino sometime in the future though. I saw that you’re reading Leopard on your sidebar. Look forward to your thoughts on that as I’ve been thinking to read it for a while.


  6. Lisa Hill
    Jan 25, 2011 @ 10:44:05

    Oh dear, Stu, you are tempting me to abandon the other book I’m reading! I started this Calvino last year on the train the day I bought it, but reluctantly put it aside because I was reading something else and then got sidetracked. I only read about 1/4 of it but I loved the way he pokes fun at the seriousness of reading!


  7. Annabel
    Jan 25, 2011 @ 11:37:58

    I like your advice not to over-analyse the book, but let the beauty of the first reading wash over you. I’ve long had this on the TBR pile, but was slightly put off by several other recent reviews. So I am reassured by yours.


  8. Nana Fredua-Agyeman
    Jan 25, 2011 @ 14:14:26

    I appreciate your dedication towards translations. That’s great. I have not yet read an Italian novelist, my bad. I would correct this soon.


  9. Kinna
    Jan 25, 2011 @ 14:38:02

    This book is one of my favorite all-time reads. Calvino’s works are fantastic. He is a master at creating new worlds and new realities. I recommend The Baron in the Trees as well.


  10. Sarah
    Jan 25, 2011 @ 21:59:26

    Glad you enjoyed it, but it was never really in doubt, was it? Wonderful book! I don’t know BS Johnson. Is that a him? And would I like him do you think?

    Like the parallel with Chesterfield’s twisted spire: inspired!


    • winstonsdad
      Jan 27, 2011 @ 12:47:31

      I think you would like him he was based in east midlands for a good time leicester ,waterstones in chesterfield has the unfortunates in stock at mo ,all the best stu


  11. Lisa Hill
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 01:48:36

    Sarah, you might like to see my post about reading B S Johnson and why it’s so special – there are photos which show you why it’s not an ordinary book: http://anzlitlovers.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/the-unfortunates-by-b-s-johnson-2/


  12. novelinsights
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 23:54:38

    ‘Marmite’ is probably the most perfect description for this book! I felt soooo frustrated with it, but I do think that it had an impact on me – definitely memorable. It drove me crazy most of the way through and then finishing the last page I couldn’t but help thinking how clever it was.


  13. Crafty Green Poet
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 19:03:07

    Calvino is one of my favourite writers, always so clever, but rarely clever for its own sake, always with something more substantial behind it. If on a Winter’s Night A Traveller is an excellent book


  14. Trackback: The castle of cross destinies by Italo Calvino | Winstonsdad's Blog
  15. Trackback: MR Palomar by Italo Calvino | Winstonsdad's Blog

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January 2011


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